Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kicking Us When We’re Down

It was announced in March, but in the hubbub over Reader (sob), I overlooked it (I certainly didn’t see a notice for it like others did). The horrible news is…TweetDeck is being canceledMurdered, if you will. I assume because it’s something I like. Also because they can’t really make money on advertising when people go through the desktop app, but like I care about that.

In all fairness, it’s not being completely taken away—in exactly one week, I might add. It will still be available as a web service, much like all the aggregators I’ve been reviewing over the past month. But I used the desktop version, amusing since I also posted how I didn’t like desktop readers. I just think it’s different with Twitter. I like to check it, well, a lot, and I’m often online at the same time. For whatever reason, I prefer to keep my TweetDeck separate from my online stuff.

Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I could go with the online version of TweetDeck, even if I really don’t want to. I could also switch to another desktop app, of which there are painfully few. There’s one called MetroTwit, which isn’t terrible, but it starts up very slowly for me. This might be my computer, which isn’t exactly high tech. Either way, I’m not sure I’d like to put up with this every time I open the dang thing. However, it’s also a pretty nice app. It shows my new mentions/messages when I open it, I was easily able to customize it similar to my TweetDeck set up in the few ways it wasn’t already a close copy, and most importantly, I’m able to send a tweet by hitting enter. Yes, that is very important to me.

So I’m caught between the online TweetDeck and MetroTwit. They’re pretty neck and neck right now. I’ll have to muse on this some more.

Hey. This is serious business.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Reader, part 5

It is 5, right? My God, I’ve been doing this for a solid month? It might be time to start wrapping this up… 

Anyway, the readers I’ve focused on for the past four entries I’ve spent time using, but there are also quite a few that I dismissed right away as not workable for whatever reason. So here’s the rundown on some of the other aggregators out there.

---“Due to overwhelming demand, free accounts are now suspended.” That’s adorable. They actually think people are going to pay for a freaking aggregator (it did look nice from what I saw in the free sample, though).

---Since it’s run by Net Vibes, it’s basically a clone of their system. So it’s good to use if for some reason you don’t like the name Net Vibes.

---Made for following news stories in topics like science or even comics, but not really for personal blogs. Also, I hate the name.

---Got rave reviews…then completely shut down.

---I couldn’t actually get it to work. Not very sophisticated from what I saw.

---Have to resubscribe to every single feed I want to follow. No thanks.

---For Apple products only, so I can’t use it.

---A downloadable program you use. Not really what I’m looking for.

---The site is broken so I can’t really review it. Honestly, with a tagline like “yet another feed reader”, I wouldn’t expect much.

---Another download. Pass.

---Yet another download. However, this is supposed to be one of the best, so if you’re willing to try it, I’d expect it to be good.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Language of Confusion: -vented

Have I done this suffix before? One of these days, I’m going to have to make a list of all the words I’ve etymologized (wait...that’s a word?) so I can keep track of what I’ve done. But I’ll probably end up playing video games instead. Anyway, here’s vent.

First showed up as a verb in the fourteenth century and a noun in the sixteenth. Comes from the Old French eventer and the Vulgar Latin exventare, a mix of ex- (out) and ventus, wind. Interestingly enough, it is not related to the words with the suffix -vent. It’s here just because.

Showed up in the late sixteenth century. Came from the Middle French event and classical Latin eventus (same meaning) which itself comes from evenire, to occur. Evenire is a mix of the prefix ex- (just like vent used to be) and venire, to come, which is also the origin word for venue.

Showed up in the late fifteenth century. Invention actually came first, but both can be traced to the classical Latin invenire, with basically the same definition. It’s a combination of in- (shockingly enough, it means in) and the above mentioned venire. So…to come in. I guess an invention comes inside a brain, right?

A relative latecomer, not showing up until 1742. It comes from the classical Latin adventus, again, the same meaning, although it also was specifically used in the Christian church to mean the coming of the messiah. Adventus comes from advenire, a mix of ad- (another word for to) and venire, to come, making it “come to”.

Showed up in the early fifteenth century from the classical Latin praeventusand praevenire, anticipate. Pre- of course means before and venire…well, I’m sure you’ve gotten the point by now. Anway, it’s “to come before”.

One of the earliest -vent words, having showed up in the early thirteenth century. It was covent in Anglo-French, back to convent in Old French, and conventus in classical Latin. It comes from convenire, the origin word for convene. The prefix con- means together, making it “come together”.

Showed up in the mid-fifteenth century, from the classical Latin words circumventusand circumvenire. Circum- means all around, in a circle (it’s related to circus). With venire, it means “to come around in a circle”, which is a pretty good definition for circumvent.

It showed up in the early sixteenth century from the classical Latin interventionemand intervenire. It’s a mix of inter- (between) and our friend venire. So, to come between.

Yeah, I was shocked to hear that this was a word, too, but it’s basically another word for a grant. It showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming from the Middle French subvention and Late Latin subventionem or subvenire (to help). The sub- means “up to” in this case, so the word means “to come up to”. I guess you have to take it figuratively.

There are also words like solvent and insolvent, which come from solve, not vent, and fervent, which has a completely separate history.

TL;DR: Vent and any word related to solve aren’t related to -vent words.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Back From The Dead

Just a minor post today, because I am hella pissed. They’re trying to pass CISPA again. It already passed in the US House of Representatives because they dont give a rat’s ass about anyone who doesn’t donate money to them. I may disagree with the president about stuff but I’m glad that he’s promised to veto this bill.

Why is it that people want to protect privacy when it comes to how many guns they buy, but not literally every other piece of data about their lives, which is exactly what this bill does? I love that their reasoning is that it will protect us from future bombings and foreign hackers. It’s not a terrible goal, but come on. The language is broad enough that it’s basically a digital bypass of the fourth amendment. And you know what? That amendment is supposed to protect even an obviously guilty person from searches and seizures without a warrant. I don’t see why that doesn’t apply for the internet as well.

When new technologies arrive, laws have to adapt. Sometimes even change. But that does not mean it’s okay to violate the spirit of the law when applying it to said new technologies.

Grrr, I’m still mad. I’m going to go find a bear and fight it to the death. I’ll bring you guys soup.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Reader, part 4

Still doing this? Still doing this. I don’t know why it’s so hard to find an exact replica of Google Reader. I also don’t know why Google Reader is dying in the first place.

Next on the list is Netvibes.

---Can connect your Facebook and Twitter, among other things.
---You can organize your lists the way you want! I missed this about Reader.
---There are a lot of options for how you view it and settings in general.
---The next button actually makes sense (one of my complaints about Feedly).

---There’s no instant transfer from Reader like other sites. It’s a bit complicated, but you can transfer them over (I’ll explain in a bit).
---Honestly, it’s a bit complex to use. I have a feeling casual computer people (like me) won’t like that so much.

Really, this one isn’t bad at all. It works, unlike FeedReader, is less complex than Pulse, and has a few bonuses on Feedly. But is it better than our reigning champion? In my opinion, no, but it’s a close second. It’s a hair too complex for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong, all those options are nice. I think if you’re a social media maven, you should definitely go with Netvibes over Feedly because of its ability to connect with your Twitter, Facebook and email. But if you only want a reader, yeah, stick with Feedly.

If you decide to go with Netvibes, here’s how you import your lists:
1. Go here and click on the link to Takeout for your data.
2. When the blocks on the right are at 100%, click Create Archive.
3. Once it’s done loading, hit Download and sign in with your password.
4. Once it’s downloaded to your computer, click it and save it somewhere you’ll remember (by default, it will most likely be under your Downloads file.
5. Go to Netvibes. Scroll down to “It’s just me” and click Get Started.
6. Sign in and pick something (Default or Social or one of those) to follow. Go to the upper right hand corner and hit Sign Up.
7. Go to “Add Content” in the upper left hand corner, then select Add a Feed.
8. Click Import, then Choose File. Go to where you saved your Takeout from Reader. Click the file, and keep going until you see an XML document that says Subscriptions. Select it, and your lists will appear on your Netvibes dashboard.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Language of Confusion: Make it Rain

I’m looking at the word rain this week, as well as its homophones rein and reign. It is April after all, and the rainy season. Plus it’s not like any of you can stop me.

The noun rain comes from the Old English regn, which itself comes from the proto Germanic regna. That g probably did used to be pronounced—if you don’t remember my post on silent letters, words with gn used to pronounce the g too, and in fact it’s still pronounced in other Germanic languages, like Dutch and Swedish. However, in English it was dropped just as it was with the word gnaw. It’s also worth noting that rain the verb comes from the Old English regnian, which was often shortened to just rinan, so it’s possible that spelling was simply preferred.

Reign first showed up in the early thirteenth century, first as a noun and then as a verb at the end of the century. The noun comes from the Old French reigne while the verb form is regner. Both words can be traced to the classical Latin regnum, which means rule or realm. The g actually makes sense in Latin, where it was vocalized, but like many gn words, it was just a graphical remnant of an old pronunciation.

Finally, there’s rein, as in a bridle lead. It first showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French rene and (most likely) the Vulgar Latin retina, a bond or check. As far as I can tell, no, it’s not related to the word for eye. That word is actually from, get this, the Greek word for tunic and totally beside the point. Retina—the Latin retina—comes from retinere, hold back, the origin word for retain, itself a mix of the prefix re-, back, and the Latin tenere, to hold. So basically, rein is retain without the two middle letters.

TL;DR: Coincidence.

 Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dream Weaver

Liz mentioned in one of her “What If” posts the possibility of recording dreams, something scientists are actually working on. They use MRIs to scan people’s minds when they’re asleep and then interpret it to recreate an image they were shown. It’s pretty rough, but you can kind of see what they were shown (it starts at about the 33 second mark). Someday (I’d say a decade at the very least) this could be the next app. Hook some electrodes to your head, plug the other end in your phone, and bam! You’ve got a recording of what went on in your head last night.

Part of me is like, cool! Sometimes I dream of things that I think will make awesome stories but upon waking I can’t remember what made me so fervent about them. But then another part of me remembers some of the crazy, messed up dreams I’ve had (the curse of being imaginative, I’m sure), and I’m a little less eager and a lot more OMMFG no one can see this ever.

Once the initial embarrassment passes (yes, embarrassment over this hypothetical technology sharing my future dreams) and I can start wondering about it again, I can actually start to think of how writers could use a technology like this. Most of my ideas that have turned into full-length manuscripts are nothing like the original dreams that spawned them. Would it even help me to look at a dream record? I’m leaning towards no since it seems my books get better the further away they are from the nonsensical, jumbled dreams whence they came. But still. Those dreams evoke powerful emotions. If I could study them, analyze them, maybe I could translate that better to the page and from there, draw in readers.

It’s an interesting idea. And not much else since this is all speculation on a technology that may never come into existence. It sure makes me wonder, though (anyone else notice I used a lot of parentheses in this one?).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Reader, part 3

Okay, so last week was a total disaster, but maybe Pulse is better. Although it would have to try very hard to be worse.

---Again, you can import all of your old feeds from Reader.
---The presentation is nice.

---How is literature not it their interests??
---It’s kind of annoying that I have to “pick interests”.
---It’s really frustrating that you can’t sign out. Once you sign in, you can’t get back to the homepage or the “Import from Reader” link. It is seriously not user friendly.
---I don’t like that it shows a bunch of pages from your post feeds. I only want the unread ones.
---There is no changing anything at all. You can’t alter titles, you can’t group lists, you can’t move things around. Again, not user friendly.

Overall, I’d say this thing is a lot more like Tumblr than a reader. It’s more image-based than word based, showing you pictures from the blog instead of the articles. I can see someone who’s more visual liking it, but I really didn’t. I want to see what my friends are saying, not look at pictures. I also like to have more control over how it’s displayed.

So, for those keeping track, Feedlyis still in the lead by a wide margin. I have to admit, I’m warming up to it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yet More Words that are Easy to Confuse

Yes, this again. Honestly, almost half of this list is from Liz’s suggestions. Looking at these, I have to say that English would make a lot more sense if there were not so many homophones (or, English wood make allot moor cense if their whir knot sew many homophones).

These words aren’t homophones, but they’re spellings are close enough that it’s easy to type the wrong thing. Casualty is death…which isn’t very casual, now that I think about it. Causality on the other hand is from cause, like cause and effect.

I hate that every time I write about a ladder, I have to pause and which one is the thing you climb on. Latter is the second thing—that’s literally the definition, the second of two objects. It should be easy to remember because it sounds like later, which is always a time period, but I still have to think about it.

I can understand the confusion of this one. Roll can mean both a piece of bread, anything coiled up, or cyclical motion while role is a part/function (etymologically, role comes from roll, so that’s why they sound alike). The easiest way to tell them apart is to remember that role is abstract, like you play a role in a movie or have a role in society. Anything else is roll.

Anyone else think of that silly “the principal is your pal (get it?!).” saying anytime they hear this? No? Just me then? Unfortunately, it doesn’t help much when you’re trying to construct a sentence about an important subject and you write that it’s “principle”. You just have to keep in mind that principle is always something like a law, while principal means highest. Oh, and the phrases are always “in/on principle”.

Have I written about these before? Whatever. I’m too lazy to go check. Anyway, birth always has to do with having a child or producing something new. Berth is either a sleeping space or a place for a vessel to rest (I guess a ship’s sleeping space). And if you’re trying to avoid something, you give it a wide berth. Remember: berth means space.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Problem with Plotting

Well, my problem anyway. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s really about?

I take it from your silence that you’re agreeing with me.

I actually plotted out my last book before I wrote it because I had to get the chronology straight. I don’t know if it helped me write faster or better—in fact, I still ended up switching around big chunks of it, even more than my previous effort which I totally pantsed. The point is, it was useful in some ways but didn’t change a whole lot about my writing habits and style. I still hit some writer’s block, I still skipped around to different scenes, it still took me until the end of the book to figure out what it was really about. A useful tool, yeah, but I’m still not someone who’s going to obsessively detail the background of every character to make sure it fits with the story’s theme as a whole. Or whatever it is you plotters do. I’m honestly not all that sure.

However, I have another story in mind (which if my editing continues to creep along like this will not be realized until the distant future) that will require plotting, again because I need to keep the chronology straight. And as I sit down to try and puzzle it out, I am faced with a problem: it’s kind of boring.

I love writing. I love imagining a world and living within it as a bunch of characters. Hell, I even don’t mind editing most of the time, polishing that gem until it shines. But figuring out the nuts and bolts before I get started? Even though it’s quite important to the story?


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying plotting doesn’t have its uses, and that there’s anything wrong with doing extensive plotting before writing draft one. Writing is something each person needs to do in his/her own way, so plotting, fine, pantsing, also fine, chaining a thousand monkeys in your basement to hammer out the next big hit, again, also fine. I just hate when I need to do something I find so boring.

Yes, this entire post was just one big complaint. And you read it. Until the end.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Reader, part 2

For the record, I am still hella bummed about this and pray against all odds that it won’t disappear into cyber oblivion. I guess I like being disappointed.

This week, I tested out FeedReader.

---The presentation of the posts is good.

---Their claim to be able to import from Reader is kind of diminished by the fact that the slowness of the website (I’m guessing their servers weren’t prepared for the Google exodus, which does not bode well for site management). This means ninety percent of the blogs I follow don’t show up.
---Wait, you can’t alter the view at all?
---Speaking of view, there’s no lists, or adjusting order of posts, or literally anything. I’m starting to regret pledging a week to this site. For the record, I’m writing this ten minutes after I first started using it.
---You can’t even quickly jump through posts, either by a next button or clicking. You have to scroll. Seriously, I’m starting to think this whole site is an elaborate prank.
---Three days into it and it still hasn’t downloaded all of my Reader blogs. Or even most of them. Hell, not even half. Like, sixteen out of sixty, and that’s all it gets no matter how often I try to “sync” with Google. I wouldn’t care if I had to download them all manually, but they claimed I could import it from Reader. Huge fail.

Even if it worked properly, I honestly don’t see it as being useful for anyone who follows more than a few blogs, which kind of defeats the purpose of the internet. It’s not easy to navigate, you can’t group anything, hell, you can’t do anything at all to it. I might as well bookmark the sites and visit them individually for all the good FeedReader has done. Overall: STAY AWAY FROM FEEDREADER. Don’t even bother.

I gave you a week of my life, FeedReader, and now I can never get it back. Clearly the only way for me to get justice is to eliminate you entirely and make sure no one else suffers like I did.

I hate you, FeedReader. Sleep with one eye open.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Language of Confusion: Nothing

I don’t think the etymology of “nothing” is much of a mystery. It’s no + thing. Not exactly a mind twister. But I thought it would be amusing to look into all the different ways we have to say “nothing”. Nil, zip, zero, zilch (z’s are popular, I guess).

It comes from Old English, where it was naþing (that þ is called a thorn; it’s from back when we had a separate letter for the “th” sound) or naðinc(again, the ð is an unused letter, this one called eth). Both words are roughly the same and are a combination of nanand þing—basically, none and thing. And it’s interesting to note that none itself is another word combination, this time of no and one, making nothing short for “not one thing”. I also think it’s cool that while nothing has been around since the early thirteenth century, we only started using it as an adjective (i.e. “nothing like”) in 1961. Words! They’re still changing!

While nothing came from Germanic roots, nil comes from the ubiquitous Latin, where it does indeed mean nothing. The classical Latin nihilor nihilum is actually another combination, this one of ne (not) and hilum (small thing). Not a small thing—not anything at all.

We’re getting into slang here. Zip has a few other meanings, but as a synonym for nothing it first appeared in 1900 asstudent slang for a grade of zero. whatever students who came up with it chose zip is unknown. If I had to guess, I would assume it’s because it for some reason annoyed their parents.

It showed up in 1966 and like most recent words, no one thought to write down where it came from. It’s apparently an actual German/Slavic name, but as to why it means nothing…no idea.

In Old English, another word for nothingwas nawiht. It’s a combination of na—no—and wiht—thing or being. Wiht has kind of fallen by the wayside these days, but you can see its vestiges in the word wight.

Kind of an interesting one since the nothing/zero meaning of it comes from naught, but it’s also a word in its own right(where it actually comes from the previously introduced wiht). The nothing meaning of the word is actually an accident, what’s known as “metanalysis”. Basically, it’s when we say “a nword” and change it to “an word”. English has done this more than once, changing “a napron” to “an apron” and “a nadder” to “an adder”. It also happens in reverse sometimes, too. For example, “a newt” was original “an ewt”.

See? Wasn’t this fun? : )

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Goals

All right, let’s see how I did…

Goal 1: Check for sight, smell, sound, touch and taste on every page of COLLAPSE. This means I’m highlighting and checking every descriptive phrase to make sure it’s A) good and B) correct. Basically, more microediting. I’m thinking this will take a while.
            Yep! Did not take half as long as I thought it would, so I was able to get through this and partway through a completely different editing pass.

Goal 2: Tweet every new entry on the Spamfiles. Update my Twitter profile to include it (the profile’s long overdue for an updating anyway…).
            I think I may have missed tweeting once or twice, which is kind of shameful since there’s only like eight tweets a month. So I guess this one is a “mostly”.

Goal 3: If I have time, more word hunting in GLITCH. I have nothing pithy and amusing to add to that.
            I guess this would be a failure because I had the time, but worked on other things instead. At least I wasn’t screwing around all of the time. Most of the time. Some times. I did something, okay?

Not bad. Not a full success but I was kind of feeling burnt out this month. It’s getting to the time of year when I usually start on a new project, but since I want to focus on old ones this year, I’m getting a bit antsy. Anyway, what will I do this month?

April Goals
Goal 1: Get COLLAPSE out to some beta readers!!! I get so nervous about sharing my work, so this is going to be a hard one. There are still some word issues, and maybe some with pacing and the like, but I feel like I procrastinate too long on things like this. Anyway, getting feedback will help me figure out what needs to be done.

Goal 2: Start following more blogs on Tumblr. I think I’ll keep this as a weekend project so it won’t interfere with my writing.

Goal 3: Work on notes (and maybe some sort of, shudder, outline) for my new project, which is actually a rewrite of an old project. This should satisfy my urge to do something new. I’ve got some good ideas brewing. It will be nice to sink my teeth into writing again.

And that’s my major goals for April. What are you guys up to this month?